The Cleveland Museum of Art

Collection Online as of May 28, 2024

Mask (Kanaga)

Mask (Kanaga)

c. 1930s
Location: not on view

Did You Know?

Performing the kanaga mask takes a lot of physical strength, so teenagers or young men typically dance it.


The kanaga, characterized by its double-barred superstructure, has been interpreted variously as representing a bird, a crocodile, Amma (the creator god), or the cosmic realms of sky and earth. Kanaga maskers perform as part of dama rites, whose goal is to escort the soul of a deceased on its journey to the spiritual realm. The masks are spectacular in motion—dramatic dips and whirls in which the dancer touches the top of the mask to the ground with each rapid revolution.
  • Julius Carlebach, New York
    Julius Carlebach, New York; Katherine White Reswick
  • CMA 1973: "Year in Review 1972," CMA Bulletin LX (March, 1973), p. 106, no. 32.
    CMA 1968: "African Tribal Images: The Katherine White Reswick Collection," cat. no. 1, repr.
  • {{cite web|title=Mask (Kanaga)|url=false|author=|year=c. 1930s|access-date=28 May 2024|publisher=Cleveland Museum of Art}}

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